7.28.15 Mycelium Is Better Than Yours

Bolete 790 xxx
iPhotos by gluttonforlife

When the weather is rainy and the woods become damp and funky, I hear the siren song of the mushrooms. They beseech me to venture deep into the understory on a thrilling quest full of promise. A good day means they are everywhere, in so many guises—popping up alongside the path, jutting out from tree trunks, spreading on the underside of rotting logs. They are red and brown and purple and neon yellow. I've always been a good spotter, known for my eagle eye, but I chock it up to a very simple technique: I seek out anomalies in the landscape. I soften or almost blur my vision, allowing my eye to catch upon whatever sticks out as different in the vast sameness. Along this journey, I absorb the deep stillness of the trees; hear the melancholy song of the wood lark; follow old trails and trace new ones; and feel a rich peace settle over me, a profound sense of contentment to be out in the natural world, where beauty knows no bounds.

Wooly chanterelle 790 xxx
wool and the gang

This is Gomphus floccosus, the so-called "woolly chanterelle." It is toxic and so must be appreciated for its color and form alone. Interested in learning more about the fungus among us? Get yourself a good book and start identifying the ones that pop up near you. (Gary Lincoff is a good source.)

Wooly chanterelle2 790 xxx
here it is in a more advance stage
Brown turkey tail 790 xxx
turkey tail, highly medicinal and proven to be anti-cancer
Purple turkey tail 790 xxx
not medicinal, but quite gorgeous
Porcupine 790 xxx
this baby porcupine was hunkered down in a stand of ferns
Yellow slime mold 1 790 xxx
neon yellow slime mold - I thought this was paint at first!
Yellow slime mold 2 790 xxx
more, in a lacier pattern
Oysters1 790 xxx
fresh oyster mushrooms
Oysters2 790 xxx
they are delicious, with a hint of the sea
Oysters3 790 xxx
another day I found this flush - dinner!

If you don't venture into the woods, you can find lots of "wild" mushrooms at farmers markets. There are a number of new growing ventures that have been successful with the more common oyster and shiitake, but also with maitake, lion's mane and even reishi.

Inky caps 790 xxx
inky caps, edible but quick to disintegrate into a black mess
Indian pipes 790 xxx
Indian pipes are actually plants, not fungi
Giant cap 790 xxx
an enormous disintegrating cap
Coral 790 xxx
coral fungi, like something from the sea
Chaga 790 xxx

This chaga, a hard, woody mushroom that grows on birch, was a serious find. Known as "the mushroom of immortality," it survives in harsh climates by concentrating potent phytochemicals that are extremely nourishing to the tree it inhabits, and to humans. Tea made from chaga has a pleasant, faintly bitter taste with a hint of vanilla. It's delicious with milk and honey. I plan to carefully harvest enough to enjoy all winter long.

Chaga2 790 xxx
inside it's softer and amber-colored
Purple slime mold 790 xxx
purple crust fungus (Phanerochaete crassa)
Honey 790 xxx
Xeromphalina kauffmanii, if I'm not mistaken
Amanita 790 xxx
yellow amanita (possibly flavoconia)

This is one of the few in the amanita family that is considered edible, but other members have names like "destroying angel" and "death cap." There are enough readily identifiable and delicious edibles available without having to risk eating a toxic amanita. As always, I remind you "when in doubt, throw it out." Never put anything in your mouth unless you are certain it is edible.

Id1 790 xxx
dead man's fingers (Xylaria polymorpha)
Id2 790 xxx
these are a wonderfully creepy find
Feather 790 xxx
nature's palette is extraordinary
Haul 790 xxx
eat your heart out

This summer's yield has included lots of oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus), a respectable amount of black trumpets (Craterellus cornucopioides) and tons of reishi (Ganoderma tsugae), another highly medicial mushroom also known as "varnish cap" because of its shiny red surface. I'm already dreaming of what a cool, rainy fall might bring...




Amazing. Exquisite photos and info. So interesting to a gal like me, raised on the gulf coast. It has its natural treasures too though!
Shelly on July 28, 2015 at 11:00 am —
All nature is full of treasures!
laura on July 28, 2015 at 10:06 pm —
Amazing photos Laura! The ghoulish-ness in me loved "dead mans fingers."
Anna on July 28, 2015 at 12:28 pm —
I loved finding them (as soon as I realized they weren't dried-up poop)!
laura on July 28, 2015 at 10:07 pm —
These photos are so exquisite! I see a book in the making showing the girl from the city's new found life surrounded by nature (okay maybe it's not a new found life but still….) that we can drool over!
louise on July 28, 2015 at 1:27 pm —
Ah, the book…one of these days! xo
laura on July 28, 2015 at 10:07 pm —
So beautiful, Laura. I'm looking forward to a wetter autumn, too. Right now there is absolutely nothing in my neck of the woods. Way too dry...But a few weeks ago it was a wonderland!
Julia on July 29, 2015 at 6:37 am —
We had another HUGE storm on Sunday, but haven't been able to get out since then. Fingers crossed more rain is headed our way!
laura on July 29, 2015 at 7:52 am —
Beautiful moments captured. Just amazing
paddockgoddess on July 29, 2015 at 7:17 am —
what a crazy assortment!!
Lisa on July 29, 2015 at 9:04 am —
WOW! Wonderful photos and great info. Thank you!
Suzinn on July 29, 2015 at 9:48 pm —
Wonderful read and pics, Laura. I will go foraging today with a keener eye. Do you know the Puffball? Maybe too early in the season.
Charlotte on August 3, 2015 at 8:18 am —
We get a variety of small puffballs in these woods, but I have never come across the giant sort, which evidently make delicious eating. Happy hunting!
laura on August 3, 2015 at 8:34 am —
Hello Laura: i will try& find & send you pic of our giant puffball (bigger than football from woods of SW Ontario) and they just seem to pop up magically overnight. Season is approaching. Yes, fabulous eating, but maybe because it's fried and smothered in butter ....
charlotte on August 13, 2015 at 11:19 am —
laura on August 13, 2015 at 11:32 am —
Wonderful collection to stumble upon! I've been shooting fungi for almost 4 years now, finding incredible variety just in walking radius of my suburban home. Just have to LOOK, and so few people do! Enjoy posting best images to Roger's Mushrooms. Look forward to seeing more of yours--they're really beautiful.
Kris on December 12, 2015 at 9:53 pm —
Thanks, Kris! Happy hunting!
laura on December 13, 2015 at 10:03 am —